Lions bring back Jarious Jackson as coaching mentor to star QB Travis Lulay, young backup pivots
Jarious Jackson (left) and Travis Lulay share a joke during a June 2011 practice at the B.C. Lions practice facility in Surrey. Jackson is returning to the Leos as a quarterbacks coach, and will serve as a sounding board for Lulay and a mentor for the young backup pivots on the Lions roster in the 2013 CFL season.
Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG files
METRO VANCOUVER — The trade of backup quarterback Mike Reilly to the Edmonton Eskimos was a savvy move for the B.C. Lions.
In exchange for allowing the Esks the right to negotiate with Reilly, who was set to become a free agent on Feb. 15, the Lions swapped positions with Edmonton in the second round of the 2013 Canadian college draft, allowing B.C. to move up three positions.
When Reilly did agree to a contract with Edmonton, the Lions also received the Eskimos’ second-round pick in the 2014 draft in return.
Yet losing Reilly — who, apparently, was headed out the door anyway — has had a ripple effect on the Lions’ coaching staff, all of whom are returning for the 2013 season, with the exception of receivers coach Travis Moore.
With the loss of Reilly, starting quarterback Travis Lulay’s sounding board and confidant, the Lions felt it was necessary to hire a quarterbacks coach.
Welcome back, Jarious Jackson, who spent last season with the Toronto Argos after seven seasons as a Lions backup QB and sometimes starter.
Jackson, 35, will sign a one-day contract with the team later this week in order to retire as a Lion and then begin the transition to a coach.
“Jarious is no longer Travis’s teammate and friend,” said head coach Mike Benevides. “He’s here to help him improve. Everything he’s learned through his life experiences, and as a player, he can use.”
During his time as a Lions quarterback, Jackson was a mentor, supporter, tutor and facilitator for Lions starters such as Dave Dickenson, Buck Pierce, Casey Printers and Lulay. With no experienced backup behind Lulay, however, Benevides felt it was absolutely necessary to have a wise, old hand on board who can aid in the development of young quarterbacks such as Thomas DeMarco, Jarrett Brown and — possibly — Casey Therriault.
In order to make room for Jackson on staff, the Lions decided to allow Moore to seek “other opportunities.”
Offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine now assumes a dual portfolio, adding receivers coach to his title.
“Travis (Moore) is an outstanding person, but we had to formulate our staff differently,” Benevides said. “I saw the void left by Mike (Reilly) and I’m trying to fill that void with Jarious. I wanted a quarterbacks coach that Travis (Lulay) could lean on. But there’s also a lot Jacques can provide our young receivers as their position coach. I think he’ll do an outstanding job of teaching those guys.”
Jackson, who is vacationing with his family in Mexico, is expected to be introduced as the Lions’ quarterbacks coach on Friday. He had been discussing the move to coaching with Benevides since late December.
“I was always supportive of the other guys (quarterbacks) when I was with the Lions, helping them out,” Jackson explained in a telephone interview. “I guess, if you do good things, it gets noticed. Now I’ve come full circle, and I’m back with the Lions again. I still had the itch to play. But I’m giving up possibly a couple of years more of playing to get into coaching. I think I can help the young guys with my wisdom and experience. Even Travis, being the great quarterback that he is, wants to improve and reach his pinnacle as a quarterback. I think I can help.”
Moore, meanwhile, reportedly is headed to Edmonton to assume similar coaching duties with the Eskimos.
McCALLUM STILL KICKING: Kicker/punter Paul McCallum turned 43 on Jan. 7 and still figures in the Lions’ plans for at least one more season, which would be his 21st in the CFL, and 10th with B.C.
His contract extension was announced by the Lions Monday. At the same time, Benevides said McCallum can expect competition at training camp from third-year player Hugh O’Neill and perhaps another kicker.
“Competition in life, and competition on a football team, makes you better,” Benevides said. “It’s clearly been articulated to Paul that it’s not business as usual — but it may be.”
Indeed, McCallum said he is open to the idea of another player assuming punting and kickoff duties, if the import-non-import ratio allows it.
“If we can bring somebody in who can kick off a lot higher and a lot farther, and punt it a lot higher and a lot farther, it’s going to help our special teams,” McCallum said. “If that happens, we should do that. But if I’m as good as, our better, than the guy they bring in, why would we waste another (roster) spot?”
WASHINGTON WAITING: Lions defensive backs coach Mark Washington was interviewed by GM Jim Popp and owner Robert Wettenhall last week in Florida for the Montreal Alouettes vacant head-coaching position.
The 39-year-old Washington broke into the CFL in 1997 as a player with the Alouettes and had the blessing of Benevides to the pursue the Montreal job formerly held by Marc Trestman, now the head coach of the Chicago Bears.
While he won’t indicate in which direction Popp is leaning, Washington knows it probably won’t be him.
“I guess they’re in the process of making a decision. I’m not sure,” Washington said. “I can’t let that train (Alouettes) stop this train (Lions). This train is moving forward, and I love being on this staff. I love this organization. This will be my 11th season (as a Lions coach and player).”
Washington, however, said his goal is to become a head coach in the CFL one day. Being regarded as suitable candidate by the Alouettes was a compliment, and an indication of the high regard in which he is held throughout the league.
“For them to acknowledge that, to inquire and interview me, it’s a great honour,” he said.
STAYING IN KAMLOOPS: The Lions have made a commitment to the city of Kamloops for more two years of training camp (2013-2014), even though, as the provincial CFL representatives, the football club’s stated intention has been to move the training site to various communities around B.C.
But Lions president Dennis Skulsky said the city’s “can-do attitude” and the excellence of the practice field, training facilities and accommodations in the self-styled “Tournament Capital of Canada” made a return to Kamloops for two more years a logical move.
After four years in Abbotsford, the Lions moved their pre-season training to Thompson Rivers University and Hillside Stadium in Kamloops in 2010.
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